International Workers Day

Facing the future together – a celebration of struggle in Nijmegen

Internationally the First of May or May Day is known as International Worker’s Day. The tradition of celebrating this day is not as strong in the Netherlands as in other countries, like Germany or Belgium. We, the organisers behind the first of may celebration in Nijmegen, want to change this. In 2015 we are organising a broad May Day celebration, where different topics will be brought to the attention. Labour deserves a celebration. The confidence of and the respect for workers deserves much more attention than it normally gets. Bankers, investors and politicians find it self evident that people do work that brings them money. The riches they live in is produced by people who do paid or even unpaid labour, increasingly more often these are workers in public sectors like education or health care. On the First of May we celebrate that labour, not profit is most important. We pay attention to labour and work, because we want to work together for a good life, warm and fitting care for each other, passionate learning and the joy of reaching a goal together.

We say NO to output-oriented policies and YES to ATTENTION for the HUMAN behind the numbers. On the First of May we are organising a demonstration through the city. We will stop at places where the output-oriented policies in education and the pressure on healthcare becomes visible. We will meet on the Schaek Mathonsingel in Nijmegen, across from the central station, near the exit of the parking garage. From there we will walk past the Graafseweg and in to the neighbourhood Wolfskuil, then through a part of the neighbourhood Waterkwartier and we will end our demonstration in the center of Nijmegen. During our walk there will be different speakers who will talk about the themes of this First of May celebration. After the demonstration there will be food at the Solidarity Cafe Mulawan, van Broeckhuysenstraat 46, this starts at 19:00. Food is available against a donation, this money is used to support illegal workers. After the food there is some very nice music there for everyone to enjoy. We will end the day with an afterparty in de Onderbroek, Tweede Walstraat 21.

Join us! This is your opportunity to shape a tradition and to build a movement of connection!

During the may day celebration we will pay attention to four central themes: Labour, Health care, Education and Migration.

Our Education – The struggle for education as part of a broad anti-capitalist struggle

In times dominated by the dictatorship of the global capitalist economy, education isn’t spared either. Universities are more and more a cheap selection and branding agency for the labour market. Just like many other public sectors, educational institutions are ran as companies. The students are, in a short as possible time, prepped for the labour market. Within the schools and universities everything is about efficiency with little space for personal development. Taking your time for this, costs money in this neo-liberal economy.

While there is a need for doctors, teachers, and  educators of all sorts, students are expected to almost fully pay the costs of their education. This results that people ‘invest’ in their own education. The government funding is scraped and the government is investing less and less in education. For this reason the tuition fees are raised every year resulting in the fact that studying becomes more and more expensive – people have difficulty aiding their children to fund their studies and dept is the result.

Students from migrant families are extra duped. This because they are often from poorer families. This is a vicious circle with the labour market treating them equally unfair. Even when more higher educate people have less chance in finding a job then ‘native’ Dutch with the same educatio – as figures from Eurostat and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) proof. Its a continuation of how things went before: social-economic vulnerable groups are kept weak. The accessibility of education is important to stimulate the right for an equal chance for everyone, no matter where people are from or their financial position.

Universities are more and more dependent on the financing they get based on the amount of graduates they deliver and the amount of research they produce. Next to this they have to look for corporations for funding for their research. This makes that the universities make a lot of effort to be as attractive as possible for these companies and also companies demand someting back for their investment. This results in the troublesome fact that students and teachers get less and less influence on their studies. From the top down there is being decided which studies are “profitable” enough to invest in. Students and workers at the universities can only hope for the ‘goodwill’ of the administration in this process of financialization. They don’t control their own faith anymore.

In this process students become products and are forced even to cooperate on the quick fabrication of this end product. In this process students became both the product in company ‘the University’ and the producer of themselves.

The government chooses to make cuts in education and sees education less and less as its responsibility. This while the right to education has been grounded in article 23 of the Constitution. Education seems to have become a burden. It seems forgotten that it is of great value to everyone.

It is important that education is accessible for all. Educating young critical people is an important base for a healthy society. The budget cuts on education, like the abolition of the student funding, make that education becomes only accessible for people who can financially afford this.

This means that the group of people who have not the right financial resources are consciously denied access to knowledge and thus also power. The emancipating character of education is broken down in this way by the budget cuts. It is clear that education, as one of the foundations of human society are worth fighting for. Students are in many ways being part of our society: they are the children of workers, they are the workers of the future, our nurses, later maybe themselves parents and also the elderly who need care. They are prepared for a life of work.

Fortunately students still have spirit and are fighting for the rights of themselves and others. And they are not alone in this struggle. Also other workers like teachers are joining in and they are fighting for the rights of all workers there. It is important that we make a fist for good student and workers rights if we want that education remains an important foundation of our society. Zero-hour contracts and flex contracts have no place in the university en school.

Student movements like ‘De Nieuwe Universiteit’ (The New University) have set this in motion. Also here in Nijmegen students and teachers have united themselves in De Nieuwe Universiteit Nijmegen. They deserve our support for democratic and accessible education for everyone. An education that served the whole of society, not businessmen or the rich.

The first of may is a day of broad social struggle in many sectors of society. This fight and celebration is also for the students.

Our Healthcare – Healthcare is under constant attack by neo-liberal restructuring and privatization

The transfer of healthcare to local governments is used to disguise budget cuts and does not fulfill her promise of less bureaucracy.

Every human being needs care and support from the day they are born until the day they die. Care is one of our primary needs. This can come from friends, family, people that are close to us and from professional caregivers. Who gives this health care is much less important than how health care is arranged in peoples lives. You can not subject healthcare to the market without destroying it. Capitalism turns everything into a commodity, but you can not buy health care in a store. People with deeply rooted feelings, empathy and a warm heart give health care and support to each other. Those feelings have to give way when capitalism comes in to healthcare, because then everything becomes a product. Caring people get taught to think in numbers, hours, product and efficiency in stead of in terms of attention, connection and warmth. Market forces in healthcare turn caring for fellow humans into a means for profit. Like a parasite, capitalism forces itself into the caring activities we employ for vulnerable humans. This needs to be stopped. Healthcare is too valuable. It does not deserve a price tag. It can not be buried in a mountain of rules and expensive bureaucracy. The access to healthcare can not be limited by an increase in deductibles. Health care has to be equally accessible for everyone. We stand for free healthcare for everyone! 

Our Labour – “Participation law” and forced labor for the unemployed

Since the beginning of the labor market the phenomenon of unemployment has existed. They go together like smoke and fire. You can only speak of a market if someone is in need to sell her/his labour. And only people that do not have a job are in need to offer their labour. In order for the labor market to work, you need unemployed people. Unemployment can happen to anyone. Unemployment benefits are no luxury, but a necessity for the labor market to function. Unfortunately, the policy makers of the government have ‘forgotten’ this. According to them, unemployment can be blamed on the unemployed individual and not on the labor market. But unemployed is a condition for the functioning of the labor market ! Fifty years ago almost everybody had a job. The workers could, with a strong workers movement and left wing parties, take a stand. The reasonable unemployment benefits that they fought for have been slowly cut back for years. The crisis has caused even more cuts, while the crisis has caused more unemployment and support is much more needed. While unemployment is skyrocketing, politicians spread the myth that unemployment is a problem of the unemployed. Since the first of January 2015 the stigmatisation of the unemployed went in to a new phase. Under the guise of ‘work experience’, people who receive unemployment benefits are forced to perform unpaid labour. This happens under the pretence that this unpaid labour will improve their chances of finding a paid job. Those who refuse can expect a reduction of their benefit. Forced labour is being sold as “a work experience”. Unemployed people have to work for a payment that is far below the minimum wage. How this will help you find paid work remains a mistery. These forced labour experience teach you, if anything, that in this system you are inferior. Bosses can hire personnel that cost much less than before! This participation law legalises forced labour and leads to the evasion of paying minimum wage. This does not help the unemployed, this helps the bosses. Instead of making the Centre for Work and Income more efficient, the problem needs to be addressed at its roots. Abolish the inequality between worker and employer. Abolish forced labour and punishment cuts of benefits. Abolish capitalism!

Our World – Work done by foreigners is not foreign to Nijmegen eigther

In the 1960’s companies such as Nyma (the present-day building of the Vasim) or the old Honig factory brought labour migrants here.

However in times of crisis these labour migrants are officially no longer welcome suddenly. None the less, the economy depends on workers from abroad. This year, we want to bring special attention to labour migrants in precarious situations and the fight for their rights.

Especially migrants from outside of the EU are often particularly disadvantaged: as so-called ‘illegals’, they have no permission to stay here – let alone do paid labour. Alongside ‘legal’ workers, these illegalized people do the same work for less money, the same work with fewer rights, also here in Nijmegen. Often they work here for years under very poor circumstances for a meagre pay. They have no right to workers protection or other kinds of social aid.

Also workers from Eastern Europe, like for instance Poland, are often not much better off. Also they are often systematically exploited working.

By abusing the situation of these vulnerable groups, companies are also putting pressure on the labour rights of other workers. Workers from here that are now relatively well protected suddenly have to accept lower wages and worse working conditions if we want to keep their jobs. It is important to realize that the true struggle should not be played out between the so-called ‘illegal’ and ‘legal’, migrant or native workers. The struggle should be fought between the ones who do the work and the bosses who walk away with the profits.

This is why we call everyone to come to the streets on the 1st of may to speak out for equal rights for everyone, and end of illegality and a begin for a life in dignity for all.

Time: May 1st – 19:00
Location: Van Schaijck Mathonsingel (Trainstation side), Nijmegen

Click here for the program and route